Dinosaurs and Christianity
Various Christian Beliefs About Dinosaurs
I spend a lot of time on Twitter looking at dinosaur tweets related to art, video games, events, funny selfies, and pretty much anything you can imagine. Unfortunately I come across some ugly things sometimes too, prompting a previous post on misusing the term dinosaur, as well as this week’s post. Tweets condemning all of Christianity for believing that dinosaurs and man existed together bother me. It bothers me because not all Christians believe that. I’m a Christian, and I don’t believe that. So in the interests of preventing future ignorant tweets, I want to give an overview of the different beliefs about dinosaurs across Christian religions. They break down into three groups, those that believe dinosaur and man existed together, those that believe dinosaurs never existed, and those that agree with modern scientific theories.
Young Earth Creationism
Just as it sounds, these Christians believe the Earth is young. Relatively, at least. This is due to a plain reading approach to the Bible. They interpret the Bible literally, also referred to as biblical literalism. Genesis says that God created the Earth in 7 days, so young Earth creationists believe it was 7 solar days. Additionally they believe the Bible references dinosaurs in it. There are references to a ‘behemoth’ and a ‘leviathan’. The behemoth, as an example, was said to be the largest of God’s creations, that had a tail that swayed like a cedar. Given that no elephants, rhinos, or other large terrestrial animals have a tail like a cedar, many young Earth creationists believe this is a sauropod. The behemoth is also described as having thighs, giving further credence to it being a terrestrial animal.
Simply put, some Christians believe there never were dinosaurs. There are numerous and varied reasons offered about the existence of fossils. Some Christians believe that dinosaur fossils are a ploy by Satan to deceive us, or that they were created by God to test our faith. Others believe that dinosaur skeletons are assembled from the fossils of other animals. In theory you could have the skeletons of 50 elephants, 50 zebras, and 50 lions all buried together. Then you could subsequently assemble 50 elezebrion skeletons that would all look the same. Another belief is that dinosaur fossils are a hoax, assembled together by paleontologists like an artist would create a work of art. Using bits of rock to assemble a ‘dinosaur skeleton’ creation. There doesn’t seem to be one unifying belief among this group, but they all believe dinosaurs did not exist on this earth as science explains.
Old Earth Creationism
Just as the name implies, this belief is the opposite of young earth creationism. These Christians believe the Earth is billions of years old, and that dinosaurs did walk the Earth millions of years ago. Again, in contrast to young Earth creationists, Old Earth Creationists do not believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible. This happens to be my personal belief, and the one I can speak most towards. In the King James Bible, 2nd Peter chapter 3 verse 8, the Bible states: “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” The 7 days of creation didn’t necessarily have to happen in 7 days. To God, the time of the dinosaurs, and the time after dinosaurs, could have been a day, millions of years, or the blink of an eye. In fact, The United Methodist Church’s official stance is “We find that science’s descriptions of cosmological, geological, and biological evolution are not in conflict with theology.”
Christian Beliefs Are As Diverse As The Dinosaurs
Not long ago I discovered a co-worker of mine was a young Earth creationist during a conversation about dinosaurs. He’s much older than I am, and devoutly religious. I was surprised, but it hasn’t changed a thing. I still think he’s a great guy, and don’t think any less of him. That’s one of the things I want you to take two things away from this. No matter what Christians believe, how does it affect you? You’re not going to be deprived of food, and jobs in the paleontological field are going to have less competition. Even assuming someone’s beliefs about dinosaurs might be wrong, do you equally shun all of your friends or family when they get something wrong about dinosaurs? Of course not, that’s absurd. Finally, I want you to remember that speaking generally about one group, based one of it’s sub-groups, is always a mistake. The beliefs of Christians don’t necessarily even line up within sub-sub-groups, as some Methodists are trying to change the church’s official stance. If you find something you think is strange, take the time to do a little research before you Tweet something. You’ll sound less ignorant that way, and spread less hate. That’s what I did, and that’s what I hope you’ll do too.